Over the past month or two, I've written a few times about the difficulties many women face in technology careers. Those difficulties are matched by those experienced by older IT workers, who find employers shun them in favor of younger employees. IT Business Edge contributor Don Tennant wrote about age discrimination in IT earlier this year, citing comments from Dr. Norm Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California-Davis, who compared career longevity of computer science graduates and civil engineering grads and found computer science grads had much shorter careers even though they arguably use skills similar to those in civil engineering.
Tennant also mentioned a 2008 study published in the Information Resources Management Journal, "An Explorative Study of Age Discrimination in IT Wages," which saw evidence of a "distinct bias in favor of youth" at Silicon Valley technology companies.
San Jose Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy wrote this week that age discrimination is Silicon Valley's "biggest open secret." The bulk of Cassidy's column, which was republished on TMC.net among other sites, focuses on the efforts of three sixtysomething folks who just launched a website to help older IT professionals find work. The site's content includes message boards, advice columns, video workshops on topics such as resume writing, interviewing and networking, and blogs about looking for work and the challenges for older people hunting for jobs.
But perhaps the biggest message of the site, OurExperinceCounts, is that its founders showed the kind of initiative that many folks associate mostly with younger workers. Said one of them, David Goldstein, a 60-year-old IT manager who was laid off by Fairchild in 2003 and lost a startup job in 2008:
It shows that people our age, we're not dead. We come up with ideas and we can reinvent ourselves.